Routine Shunting During Carotid Endarterectomy in Patients With Acute Watershed Stroke

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To evaluate the protective role of routine shunting in patients with acute watershed stroke (WS) undergoing carotid endarterectomy (CEA).


A total of 138 patients with symptomatic carotid stenosis (SCS) who underwent CEA after acute ischemic stroke from March 2008 to March 2015 were included in this study. Transient ischemic attacks were excluded. These patients were divided into 2 groups according to the topographic pattern of the stroke on magnetic resonance imaging: group 1, territorial strokes (TS) caused by emboli of carotid origin, and group 2, WS caused by a hemodynamic mechanism related to an SCS. Primary end points were 30-day mortality and postoperative neurological morbidity. The insertion of a Pruitt carotid shunt was performed systematically.


Ninety (65.2%) patients presented a TS of carotid origin and were included in group 1, and 48 (34.8%) of the 138 patients had a WS related to an SCS and were included in group 2. The median time between clinical onset of the cerebral ischemic event and surgery was 9 days (range: 0-89 days). Postoperative mortality was 0%. Seven (5.1%) patients had an aggravation of the neurological status during the postoperative period, of whom 2 presented a complete regression of the symptoms in less than 1 hour (definitive postoperative neurologic morbidity: 3.6%). Postoperative neurologic morbidity rate was significantly higher in the TS group (7 of 90; 7.8%) compared to the WS group (0 of 48; P = .04). No other independent predictive factor of neurologic morbidity after CEA for an SCS was found.


Our results suggest that routine shunting should be considered in case of acute WS since it may play a protective role. Further studies are eagerly awaited to better define the timing and the best treatment option for both acute WS and TS related to an SCS in order to reduce postoperative neurologic morbidity.

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